An empirical approach to symmetry and probability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We often rely on symmetries to infer outcomes' probabilities, as when we infer that each side of a fair coin is equally likely to come up on a given toss. Why are these inferences successful? I argue against answering this question with an a priori indifference principle. Reasons to reject such a principle are familiar, yet instructive. They point to a new, empirical explanation for the success of our probabilistic predictions. This has implications for indifference reasoning generally. I argue that a priori symmetries need never constrain our probability attributions, even for initial credences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Indifference
  • Probability
  • Statistical mechanics
  • Symmetry


Dive into the research topics of 'An empirical approach to symmetry and probability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this